By: Diane Benjamin
We know Connect Transit had plans to buy huge electric buses regardless of what the Working Group reported about the size of buses needed: https://blnnews.com/2019/09/27/proof-the-working-group-is-a-joke/
We know Connect Transit fabricated a response in order to delay my FOIA request: https://blnnews.com/2019/09/27/more-proof-connect-transit-shouldnt-exist/
I did receive the FOIA last Friday, 633 pages of the same emails over and over and over. That is a long way from the 5000 pages they predicted.
A lot of the emails were between Judy Buchanan, Julie Hile, Issac Thorne, and Smart Growth America.
Just to review: Buchanan and Hile are on both the Connect Transit Board and the Working Group. Issac Thorne is Connect’s General Manager, Smart Growth America is the consultant Connect hired. Obviously they aren’t an impartial consultant, they even have a Form Based Code division:
Form Based Code is why many of the buildings in Normal lack character, the developers were told they had to build retail on the first floor with apartments above. Years ago Julie Hile tried to turn Main Street from Bloomington to Normal into Form Based Code. It was defeated by citizens who knew that would infringe on their property rights.
I bet you didn’t know that Bloomington and Normal agreed to pay $20,000 each for Smart Growth America:
Bloomington’s City Manager can spend $50,000 without Council approval. Normal’s can spend $25,000 with no vote from the people you elected to represent you. Congrats.
The first two paragraphs of the “Connect Transit Proposal” show the disconnect:
Smart Growth America (SGA) proposes to assist the Connect Transit Board of Trustees in convening a Connect to the Future Work Group (Work Group) to facilitate a visioning process for the future of transit in Bloomington-Normal.
Envisioning and building out a public transit system that meets the needs of residents in Bloomington-Normal will require input from diverse stakeholders who can speak to the multifaceted roles the region’s transit system should serve. A good local transit system connects all residents to the jobs and services they need at the times of day when they need to access them, including disadvantaged residents who most need access to those opportunities and resources. It also supports the region’s economic prosperity, helps older residents maintain a high quality of life when they can no longer drive, and contributes to a more vibrant community. While SGA has substantial transit expertise through our technical assistance work in communities around the country, the experts who can identify specific needs in Bloomington-Normal will be local stakeholders and residents of the community themselves.
See the whole document here: Connect Transit Proposal – Smart Growth Americ
Think back to why the Working Group was formed in the first place. People with no other transportation options were not being served. Routes had been eliminated, stops were too far away. Fare were being increased. ADA compliance was years away from being wide-spread. Numerous people were commenting during Public Comment at both Bloomington and Normal because NOBODY was listening to them. They had tried communicating with Connect Transit and were ignored. Poof: hire a consultant.
“Connect all residents”? Do you want to subsidize riders who choose to ride? These people can afford their own transportation, why should taxpayers fund their folly?
Since both Bloomington and Normal have increased sales taxes to fund Connect Transit, the Smart Growth America definition of “economic prosperity” comes at your expense.
I’ve picked out a bunch of emails. I will end this story with the scariest item on the table for the Working Group:
The Working Group is being steered toward creating a taxing district just for Connect Transit.
Bloomington and Normal won’t decrease the Sales Tax rate. Connect will just steal an ever increasing percent of your money for their insanity.
Why are ISU students bused around campus while taxpayers were charged for a fitness center? Walking is too difficult? https://campusrecreation.illinoisstate.edu/fitness/